BUILDING JUST COMMUNITY ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS
Abstract:Three professors at a regional public university describe the goals, methods, and results of an experimental course in empowering a diverse group of students to build a more just community among themselves. Students critically examined theories of community and justice in relation to the social construction of difference, including their own experience as members of various social class, racial/ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, and ability groups. A six-hour diversity workshop designed by the National Coalition Building Institute and Arnold Mindell's principles of deep democracy were used to transform the class, increase group awareness, and model more authentic, generous interactions. Students then developed Action Research teams to plan and carry out a project to enhance the larger campus community. Faculty and students reported increased critical consciousness, empathy skills, empowerment, and a sense of community among students. Faculty concluded that it was necessary to focus specific attention on social injustice within the classroom and on campus, rather than "out there" in the world. Sharing our experience and responding to different needs of group members promotes learning, strengthens democracy, and humanizes us all.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2002